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I guess I just like liking things

Ah, Home and Away. I was completely obsessed with this show when I was a teenager. Stuck firmly in my memory is a school friend crying in class because one of the main characters had died the night before (Bobby, for any Aussies who might be reading this). I’d stopped watching it by the time I visited the UK in 1998, but was bailed up by a couple of Irish girls in the hostel I was staying at as they demanded future storylines. Pre internet days, obviously. Thankfully I’d seen some adverts and could tell them who would live and who would die in whatever it was that was happening at the time. Probably a bomb scare after an evil twin returned from the dead, pregnant with the child of the man who went into a coma after crashing his car into a camel. Storylines in Home And Away are nothing if not believable.

I’m watching the episode from the 14th of April. No reason. There’s a “last episode” recap, and the diner is making people sick with toxic something or other. Not the diner! Not the diner! Irene owns the diner and she’s all troubled. Some guy with a “Blood and Sand” tattoo is in hospital, and there’s a photo of a kid and then a bit of a punch on. Blood and Sand guy, who is named Brax apparently, explains some stuff to a lass named Ricky, but he’s pretending to be unwell and can’t really speak properly so I have no idea what’s going on. Mumbling, mostly. Ricky can’t see the issue because it’s a photo, and someone is someone else’s father – le gasp! Recap over, now we can get to the good stuff.

Ricky is cradling a small baby. Brax arrives limping on a broken leg. I know it’s broken because the lady tells him if he’s discharged himself she’ll break his other leg. He wants to know why Ricky is there and Ricky breaks out some genuine Home and Away monotone acting to explain she’s babysitting. The actress looks mildly alarmed to be holding an actual baby and I think they should have gone with a stunt baby.

Brax does some more mumbling and takes the baby. This guy has held babies before, and looks quite comfortable. Casey, who brought him home, has left (not sure where, too mumbly), but Ricky knows something about Casey’s dad. This must be the guy they were talking about in the hospital. Brax looks at the baby and says “Lissen Harley, all wimmin ever wanna be tol is that they’re righ about eveething.” This was the best take too, the one that ended up on the actual television. Worrying. Casey is apparently too happy in his life to be told who his father is.

Ah, beach time. For those not in the Home and Away know, it’s set in a small beach town and the cast is expected to shoot a lot of scenes in Summer clothes, on the beach, in the Winter. Depending on when the scene was shot, you can usually see the goosebumps. Anyway, there’s a guy sitting down next to a skateboard and a girl approaches him. The guy is Matt, and he doesn’t want to talk to the girl and the girl is totally upset about this. He’s been ignoring her and she hates that. I’m glad to see Matt is another mumbler. I can’t tell if it’s “I am a teenage boy” or “I can’t actually act.” Leaning to the latter.

Mumblemumble sadness mumble

Mumblemumble sadness mumble

Matt has a small girl, and she’s been taken away from him by Child Protection. This was actually in the flash back bit at the start, but I didn’t know what was going on so I didn’t talk about it. The girl is four or five and Matt is maybe 18 so I’m going to presume she’s a sister rather than a daughter, but who knows?

The girl takes Matt back to a house which she checks for emptiness before inviting him inside. Her name, I finally discover, is Sasha and because they want privacy they go up to her room. Channel 7 Catch Up TV freezes at this point and I could not be more disappointed. I poke it, and it jumps forward to Sasha’s room. Matt is looking at her stuff while she stands around. Matt’s decided Sasha wants him, though I think she has a boyfriend already. He flings himself on the bed and Sasha opts for a chair, because she wants him to talk about his pain. He doesn’t want to talk about his pain, but he doesn’t want to go either. It’s so complicated being a teenager.

Casey is at the beach and another man turns up. Casey is all hurt and offended because this chap had told Casey he was busy. The chap doesn’t even care he’s been caught out, what a rebel and a bad guy. Oooh, drama! Casey is Brax’s brother, and Brax stole that photo of the kid. Remember that? Well it belonged to the father of this guy who’s being angry now. Keep up. “I’m sure there’s an explanation,” says Casey. “Well yer big brover ain’t talkin'” says the other guy. Someone wrote that, in a script. For people to see.

Two women trapped forever in a third rate soap opera

Two women trapped forever in a third rate soap opera

In the cafe, Marilyn and Irene (I know both their names because they were both in it back in the 1990s) are discussing the troubles. Since someone almost died from eating there, no one has come in. Irene is ready to give up, but Marilyn is relentlessly cheerful and thinks a coat of paint will make people forget the agony of almost fatal food poisoning. Irene however is broke, and can’t afford paint. This lack of customers isn’t helping. Marilyn is given the rest of the day off, and Irene does some staring into the distance.

Ricky is trying to comfort a crying baby. The baby, not having read the script, is not actually crying, but thankfully someone remembered to dub the sound in. Brax takes the baby, and Casey turns up. Seeing his brother there, he stops, and the music gets all “Oh noes, dramaz.” The baby stops crying and everyone gazes at Brax like he’s some kind of godlet.

Casey asks Brax what’s going on with him and Andy, who I guess is the guy from the beach before. Brax says the photo was handed in at work, and it’s no big deal. Casey isn’t convinced, and also isn’t enunciating. Brax has stuff he’s gotta do, so he leaves. The music gets all sad emotional and Casey asks Ricky if she’s okay. She says she is. Casey asks if she’s told Brax about the baby, but she hasn’t. Does everyone in this town have a secret father/baby/random family member?

Marilyn is talking to John who owns a thriving juice bar. Of course he does. The outside tables are full of young, beautiful people enjoying juice. Marilyn is really sad about Irene because Irene is so sad about the diner. John is more worried about how many people he has to serve. His assistant is too busy looking at the back wall and jiggling a bit to help. Marilyn decides to do Irene a favour and resign from the diner, saving Irene wages. Andy tries to follow her out, but Andy is all rude about the line.

Back in Sasha’s room, Matt is digging through her underwear drawer. Sasha gives him a sandwich and doesn’t kick him in the groin which would be my personal response. She offers to play poker with him, but refuses to play strip poker. Matt is all depressed.

Not talking, just standing

Not talking, just standing

Andy, presumably having been able to buy juice, is now wandering around with a surfboard again. Haven’t seen him actually surf yet, though. Brax finds him and they have a mumbled angry chat. Andy can’t close his mouth. I’m not sure if there’s something medically wrong with him or if he just can’t act. Leaning to the latter.

Marilyn is back at the diner. She tells Irene she’s resigning, and Irene is a little sad but not that sad. Marilyn gives her a cuddle and Irene looks worried.

Matt and Sasha are sitting on the bed playing cards when Matt takes her hand. Sasha pulls her hand away and Matt reminds her that they’ve kissed before. Sasha refers to it as an ambush, and distracts him by discussing life plans to get him out of the sads. She’s telling him that since he’s 18 he’ll be able to get help from welfare, but he’s leaning in for a kiss. Sasha doesn’t pull away, but does push him away after they’ve locked lips because it’s a bad idea. He kisses her again and she tells him to stop, so he gets all stroppy and storms out. She chases after him, but he’s not having it. She stops him at the front door and he demands to know why she brought him tot he house. She says she wanted to help him, not kiss him, and he tells her everything is her fault. “Stop helping me, coz you’re only making things worse,” he says, and actually delivers the line pretty well. There’s hope yet.

Andy turns up at Casey’s house. Casey is waxing a surfboard. Everyone is forever fondling surf boards in Summer Bay. Andy apparently works for or with Casey, and tells Casey he’s taking off and can’t work for a bit. Casey, thrilled at the short notice, demands to know when Andy will be back. “Dunno” says Andy and walks off with his mouth open.

Stone the flamin dead horse and a lizard drinkin'

Stone the flamin dead horse and a lizard drinkin’

Irene is sitting in the diner when Alf arrives. Now, Alf has been in this show from day one so I think he’s contractually supposed to appear in every episode and say “stone the flamin’ crows.” He’s missed lunch, and could “eat the leg off a low flyin’ duck.” I cringe. He wants a burger and Irene is delighted that someone wants to eat her potentially deadly food. She’s about to make his order when he adds on a cake and some other stuff and she realises he’s only there to give her money. Irene sighs and says she might as well give up, but Alf reckons people will come back when they forget about how they could die. Irene says it’s time to close down for a while.

Sasha is sitting on the sofa when Matt wanders back in. He wants to apologise, but Sasha is hurt. He apologises anyway. “You just thought that sleeping with me would have solved all your problems?” says Sasha. “No, but it would have taken my mind off them.” Classy. Sasha, it turns out, had her little brother taken by Child Protection, so she does understand a bit. She tells him to call her any time even though he’s been a mega creep the entire time.

Ricky is wheeling the baby around, off to the surf club to meet someone. Casey sees how sad she is, because Brax would have been a great dad. I guess she lost the baby, or had an abortion. Casey says Brax has a right to know.

A music track starts, the singer is all emotional about life. Irene is sitting at the tables outside the diner before walking away. She’s all emotional too. Ricky finds Brax working on his car and says she has something to tell him. After Brax went to prison, she lost the baby. Brax looks stunned, and then the credits roll.

Where to begin. Where to begin. Let’s start with the acting. It was almost entirely terrible. I assume many of these younger actors did Drama at school, and I hope none of their Drama teachers have seen them in Home and Away. To be a tough guy, apparently, you have to either mumble or speak in an arrogant monotone. Alf was over the top too, but he always is. More Australian than an Australian can possibly be, Alf is there really for the international market. The accent is exaggerated for this same market, and everyone is all goin’ and comin’ and thinkin’. The women are a bit more careful with their words, but generally have a chirpy monotone at all times. Unless it’s sad, then they drop the tone of voice into a somber monotone.

Storylines? Well, not as insane as I’d expected, though pretty standard. I honestly don’t get why Sasha didn’t kick Matt out of the house as soon as he started creeping on her. Misplaced friendship? Compassion for his situation? Girls aren’t allowed to be annoyed by creepy guys? Not sure, but it was hideous. Brilliant lesson for any teenage girls watching too – if you like someone as a friend you have to put up with them creeping on you. Boys? If your female friend asks you to not dig around in her underwear drawer, it means she wants to sleep with you. Wonderful.

Secret dads, lost babies, kids in care – it was a very family style plot for this episode. I’m sort of sad because I was hoping someone would recover from a coma and discover they were their own father, but you can’t have everything.


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